River Bandits return home after dodging peak flooding in the Quad Cities
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - It was almost a perfect day for the return of baseball to downtown Davenport Monday evening.
The Quad City River Bandits were on a two-week road stretch traveling to Michigan for two different series.
Now they host the Cedar Rapids Kernels for the first time since major flooding hit the QCA. The Mississippi River crested at 21.6 feet on May 1.
Despite the great weather on Monday, the river continued to wreak havoc in the area around Modern Woodman Park. Portions of River Drive remained closed off due to flooding, making it difficult to get down to the stadium. Some of the venue’s parking lots were blocked as they are still underwater.
Team owner Dave Heller said this shows exactly why the ballpark needs a permanent bridge for fans.
“We got so lucky because the schedule had us gone for our only two-week road trip of the year at exactly the peak time of flooding,” Heller said.
Even with mud and the smell of flood waters lingering in the parking lots of the ballpark, fans were still able to enjoy the sounds of baseball in the QC.
One fan Kristi Hestness said her family didn’t have trouble getting down to the game.
“Summer has begun. The games are back and it’s super easy to get here,” Hestness said. “They’re starting to clean, and we’re just really excited that summer started.”
The ballpark put up temporary flood walls to keep water out and put up a ramp to get fans over the water leading up to the entrance.
Heller said it took some work to get concessions and other equipment in for the homestand.
“The city of Davenport did a fabulous job of protecting the park and making sure that no water got in, that was great,” Heller said. “The challenge is how do you get people in and out of the ballpark when the floodwaters are so high?”
While this year the team was able to dodge major flooding concerns, it brings into question the future of Minor League Baseball in the area. According to Heller, the team has until the Opening Day of 2025 to figure out a solution for getting fans in seats when flooding occurs, or when trains block the stadium.
“If we had been home during that period, we would have lost [hosting] 12 home games,” Heller said. “Our status as a minor league-affiliated team would be threatened by MLB. "
Team officials are encouraging fans to use side streets because of the limited parking near the park. On Tuesday it was announced via the team’s social media platforms, Wednesday night’s game would be free admission.
As a thank you to the wonderful fans who supported us during the flood, we are have a FREE Admission game tomorrow!! Gates will open at 5:45pm with first pitch at 6:30pm. Fans will need to pickup a ticket at the gate upon entry. pic.twitter.com/6I7or86lXt— Quad Cities River Bandits (@QCRiverBandits) May 10, 2023
Flood waters or not, fans like Richard Harris are glad to see their Bandits on the diamond.
“We came down last week a couple of times,” Harris said. “We were looking at the water going ‘They’re never gonna be able to play here.’ They did an amazing job keeping the water out as much as they could to allow people to park.”
Flood measures will remain in effect at Modern Woodman until the water recedes from the main entrance areas.
The River Bandits will finish off the series with Cedar Rapids on Sunday. The Kernels took Monday’s game 7-3.
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